Niger Set To Become Oil And Gas Producing State
When the Niger State government recently took the risky path of funding the search for oil and gas in the Bida Basin, the administration of Governor Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu must have had at the back of its mind that the regime will be open to criticism from within and outside if the venture failed. Instead of seeking help from outside, the government decided to commission its own Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University at Lapai to handle the project, a step which served twin purposes of strengthening the capacity of the university in the area of oil and gas research and at the same time reducing the amount the project would have cost if commissioned to outsiders. There is no doubt that dedication to the project was also achieved because the university team that handled it see the job as ‘our own’ which must not fail and they put all they had into it .
The major assignment of the Gubernatorial Committee is to verify the claim of availability of oil and gas in the Bida Basin and determine whether or not it is in commercial quantity. After months of painstaking research work, it is now to the credit of the Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu administration that it was able to muster enough political will and courage to invest heavily in the research work because the findings so far have revealed positive result that can turn around the economic fortunes of the state as an oil and gas producing state.
Based on the geological mapping on the Bida Basin, it was discovered that ‘’there are prospective areas of possible hydro carbon accumulation around Patti-Shaba Kolo in the Lavun local government area of the state, Kandi in Lapai LGA and Adogo in Mashegu local government area, all in the state.
The drilling of shallow wells at Agaie and Kudu, and analysis of samples at Getame laboratories shows that Agaie drilling provided more information on potential reservoir rock while Kudu samples are more clearly indicative of potential petroleum source rocks.These findings, along with others have made the committee to recommend that further exploration assessment be stepped up to the level of a pilot study that will embrace more ‘detailed sediment logical loggings on field drilling of more wells at Mokwa, Bokani, Makera and Badeggi’.
The involvement of the Energy Commission of Nigeria in the entire project is also indicative of the genuineness of the report of the Gubernatorial Committee report which therefore should be taken serious by all relevant organisations.
The implementation committee has therefore recommended various measures that will lead to the speedy realisation of the programme in the first instance, asking for collaboration between states where the deposits are expected to have spread to among them Kogi,Kwara, Kebbi and the federal capital territory. The collaboration will ensure enough resources are mopped up for the funding of the project which will also make sure that the heavy capital requirement for the establishment of an oil and gas outfit is not on the shoulder of one state.
The implementation committee also recommended the drilling of an exploratory test well at Patti Shaba Kolo to be code named ‘Talba-1 Well’ to enable more samples to be obtained for further geo-chemical investigations to determine the commercial quantity of the oil and gas. Similarly, it suggested the carrying out of feasibility study for viability of establishment and construction of a petrochemical and refinery plant at Baro which port is currently being dredged by the federal government.
To fast track the actualization of the project, the committee has gone a step further by registering two special purpose vehicles, 1,Midland Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited (for down- stream) and 2, Midland Petrogas Resources Limited (upstream) with the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. These companies are to drive the oil and gas project for Niger State. However on their take-off the companies are expected to draw investors from the private sector so that the project will not be mismanaged like most publicly owned concerns that have refused to deliver the goods years after their take-off.
Now that the Niger State government has taken the initiative to set the ball rolling in the search for oil and gas in the Bida Basin, the only rational thing left to be done is for the federal government through its agencies to take over the job from where the Niger state government has stopped because the Federal government has the financial muzzle and technical expertise to move the project to fruition at a faster rate.
For security reasons it is also wise for the federal government not to put all its eggs in one basket which concentrating exploration for oil and gas in one part of the country means. In the event of either natural or unnatural happenings in one part of the country the government will be assured of regular and uninterrupted income from the other part where it will be safe to do business.
Even now that the number of years left for the oil wells in the Niger Delta region to dry up is drawing near according to experts, the right time for Nigeria to seek other sources for oil and gas is now and the Bida Basin has provided the right opportunity and wake up call to the authorities concerned.